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If you want to be known as a gardening pro, why not humblebrag about your secret camellia pruning techniques at your nan’s afternoon tea party? But only after you follow these steps.
Look at many gardeners’ and mention the words ‘camellia pruning’ to them, and they’ll give you a very worried expression. There’s a myth that camellias are difficult to prune and that you shouldn’t go near them if at all possible. However, these tropical and beautiful looking plants can flourish even with a hard prune, so don’t be worried if you’re tackling your camellia for the first time. Camellia pruning follows the same main principles for cutting back evergreens and is, therefore, fairly simple.
Prune camellia after flowering
Camellias flower on the growth that they made the previous year, so you should prune your plant immediately after flowering. This gives camellias the maximum amount of time to produce new buds for a vibrant show the following spring.
Any dead, diseased or spindly branches should be cut off to ensure that it’s as healthy as possible. Cut withered branches back to healthy growth, reducing stems entirely down to ground level if necessary.
Identify the old flower bud, and grasp the stem in your hand. Follow the stem back by three or four leaves. Using sharp secateurs, cut off the stem just above the fourth or fifth leaf. Continue the process until you’ve achieved your perfect shape.
Cut a little, not a lot
Most camellias will only need a light prune to keep them to the shape you want. Harsh pruning can be used to help regenerate tired old plants that you might’ve inherited, and long spindly stems can be removed right back to healthy buds lower down. However, if you’re working on a young plant, you only need to remove the shoots that have just finished flowering to keep your plant in tip top condition.